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Jones v. Regents of the Univ. of Cal.

Citation: 40 ELR 20117
No. No. A123948, (Cal. Ct. App., 04/07/2010)

A California appellate court reversed a lower court decision that granted in part a citizen group’s petition for a writ of mandate under the California Environmental Quality Act challenging the certification of an environmental impact report (EIR) by a university board in regards to the development of a research campus. Although an EIR must consider a reasonable range of potentially feasible alternatives and compare their environmental impacts, it does not have to identify and analyze alternatives that would not meet a project’s objectives nor does it have to discuss every possible permutation of alternatives. Here, if a partial off-site alternative would not meet the project’s objectives of creating a more campus-like setting and fostering a collaborative work environment, the EIR was not deficient in failing to consider a complete off-site alternative. Likewise, the substantial evidence supports the EIR’s conclusion that the off-site alternative would not meet the project’s objectives. At the same time, the group failed to exhaust its administrative remedies on issues of (1) whether the water quality analysis in the draft EIR was deficient for failing to consider numerical water quality standards and the research campus’ alleged violation of those standards; and (2) whether the research campus was required to recirculate the draft EIR after adding a discussion about greenhouse gas emissions in response to public comments.